When you drive over the Golden Gate bridge leaving San Francisco, you immediately go from city scape to Marin county. Marin was home to Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead as well as some of the bay area's wealthy residents. Marin is the great outdoors with mansions and high end car dealerships.
Right off highway 101, rolling hillsides meander towards the Pacific Ocean covered in lush green vegetation. The coastal area is largely undeveloped. Marin's wine growing region is just south of the Sonoma border, and of all grapes that should do well there, Pinot Noir is it. The cooler temperatures in Marin county keep the Pinot grapes from getting too much sugar during the growing season. Some of the vineyards sit on hillsides protected from west winds above the fog level. This ensures the Pinot grapes get enough early morning sun to help the grape ripen and keep up with the acidity from the cool temps at night.
Soils can be erratic with a mix of clay and high magnesium from serpentine soil. It's not uncommon to see rock outcroppings that were volcanic tubes filled with magma 150 million years ago. Over time, the magma cooled leaving rock formations all over the coastal area.
Kendric Vineyards is operated by Stewart Johnson, who is responsible for all aspects of the winery. He farms the land, he manages the vineyard and he makes the wine. I met Stewart last month right before the Pinot Summit in Marin. We had a good laugh that the summit was held in Marin, but his was the only local wine at the event. The rest of the pinots came from all over the globe. Stewart and I tasted the 2006 and 2007 side by side. Case production is close to 375 cases. I liked the lighter, more refined balanced style of the 2006 over the bigger 2007. Both offerings were good representations of Marin.
I came away intrigued by this region for growing Pinot Noir. Keep an eye out for other offerings or grapes that make good use of the cooler weather. Next up? Chardonnay.
Some possible food pairings to play with for this recipe:
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